Before we go anywhere, I cannot overstate how awesome Zayde Wisdom is to say out loud. I envy the in-arena announcer for the Frontenacs who got to announce it every weekend.
Zayde Wisdom’s story is one of a kid overcoming seemingly every possible issue in his path: from childhood poverty to total apathy from scouts, to the defender in his way in the only way he seems to know how: at full-throttle. Wisdom’s mid-season scouting ranking from the NHL started nowhere, shot up to 90, and thanks to his work with the Frontenacs, he shot right up into the 50s. He got there by firmly placing himself as a holy terror on the forecheck, getting right up the nose of defenders and forcing turnovers with speed, and then getting separation by simply bulldozing through the panicking defense, and then putting that power behind a dangerous shot that seems designed to catch the left of the net and catch goaltenders looking nearly every time he gets it off even if the goalie has him scouted. And if the defense managed to keep up with him? His playmaking skills kick in, as his play can sometimes distract from his very smooth hands and targeting computer level play recognition, which allow him to get passes off right in the face of oncoming pressure or even if a player is right up his nose.
And boy would that be a bad thing to let happen given who he was playing with this year.
Wisdom ended up having the good fortune of playing with “Exceptional Status”-level talent in Shane Wright and Martin Chromiak, who we previously profiled. And like Chromiak, there was obvious concern about how anyone’s stats might look while playing with such an exemplary player, but when the season first started, Wright was still 15, and it fell on Wisdom to go out, show him the ropes, protect him, and for a period of time, control the scoring for the Frontenacs while Wright adjusted and eventually got his bearings, only making all three of those players better. His relentless play and pro-level frame allowed him to become the physical, in-your-face portion of Kingston’s possible savior line, and he showed a complete willingness to throw down for his teammates when he caught wind of the opposing team trying to take liberties.
As for downsides, Wisdom’s high-energy play has good mobility in his legs, but poor acceleration; his first two strides don’t quite get him to his top speed as well as it should, and that can sometimes be an issue when trying to get out of his own end, and given the kind of player he’s playing with most of the time, it becomes very noticeable. Another is his puck-handling skills. While he’s good at possessing the puck through physicality and through stick checks, they’re more like a blunt instrument; He’s never going to deke anybody out of their skates, and at the higher levels of competition that level of craftiness can make or break a play. Further, it’s clear that being the tough guy for Shane Wright might negatively impact his game a bit, as he’s just as interested in keeping order as he is in scoring goals, which can give the impression he’s not trying to add to the offensive zone as he deals with his charge’s problems. And because of his charge, there is always the question...Is he really just doing well because Shane Wright is here? We didn’t have a Memorial Cup this year to see if he went on a run in a playoff format (not that the Frontenacs were going), so it is, unfortunately, a fair question.
Wisdom is being projected all over the map. The consensus is that he’s an energy guy that could help your depth, and maybe could do middle six work if he works hard. The problem is how much one wants to put stock in that assessment, and how much you value what he does. A lot of the mock draft sites see him being in the 2nd round, and some are pessimistic enough to believe he could be drafted as late as the 5th round.
Personally, I believe Wisdom seems to make sense as a mid-round pick as a safe late 3rd rounder with the expectation that he’ll be a longer term prospect designed to take over the roles that guys like Sean Kuraly or Chris Wagner currently occupy if the Bruins were to pick him. After all, he’s ingratiated himself to Kingston fans by being scrappy, Boston loves a guy like that!
Especially if it’s a guy named ZAYDE WISDOM
54th by NHL Central Scouting among North American Skaters
66th by McKeen’s Hockey
|2017-18||Toronto Jr. Canadians AAA||GTHL U16||57||15||38||53||N/A|
The Draft Profiles return on the 22nd, where we move away from wingers and places of need, to RHDs and goalies, and our coverage of “phase one” of the NHL Draft on the 26th!